Salmon Guiding Success on the Welsh Dee

At the start of this week wet and windy weather pushed the Welsh Dee back into full spate (1m @ Corwen). This was followed by a brief dry spell that allowed the river level to fall back below 0.9m on Tuesday. A couple of salmon were caught on Tuesday but most anglers were having tough time even thou the river was in good condition for salmon fishing.

This week I had planned three days fishing with my son but our first day, Thursday, was a complete wash out because heavy rain on Wednesday pushed the river level skyward (1.2m Corwen) and turned it chocolate coloured. However, by the end of the day the river level had started to fall and clear slightly.

On Thursday Ludwig joined our fishing trip with the challenge of trying to catch his first Welsh Dee salmon before the season closed, which is creeping up quickly. The river level had dropped off from its peak but was still at 0.95m. Therefore, our plan for the day was to fish the left bank from Horseshoe Falls to Dee Farm because there are some slower pools that offer resting places for running salmon on this stretch.

Ludwig and I had decided to fish the fly but when he came to set his rod up he realised that he had forgotten his fly-box, so I gave him a red Ally’s shrimp that had been successful for me over the last couple of weeks. I also set up my fly rod with a similar fly on a floating line with 15ft intermediate tip. However, my son, George, had decided to fish the spinner because the slacker water in many of the pools is very difficult to cover with the fly at river levels above 0.8m.

When we arrived at the river I was surprised to see that overnight the river had cleared because I was expecting to see more colour in the water at this river height. Ludwig walked up river to fish the Pipe Pool, while I quickly put the fly through the tail of the Hollybush Pool as best I could, before George fished it thoroughly with the spinner.

The Hollybush is a difficult pool to fish with the fly from the right bank because of the steep tree lined bank. However, there are a couple of places where I could get a line out and allow it to swing round and under the overhanding trees, where salmon shelter from the main current. I had one tug on the line as the fly swung round but it was probably a trout. On the spinner George managed to catch one small sea trout just above the V of the tail.

Next we walked up river to fish through the Pipe pool with Ludwig but fishing through this pool thoroughly didn’t produce anything. So we walked up to Dee Farm where the river flow is slower making it a good holding pool and resting place for running fish. Fishing this pool from top to bottom with the fly and spinner for a couple hours just a produced a couple of small brown trout for our efforts. While George and Ludwig were fishing the tail, before we headed off back to the car for some lunch, I moved down to fish the shallower runs below Dee Farm.

After about 20 minutes of fishing through the runs with no luck I surprised that the others had not joined me, so I walked back up to Dee Farm to see what was holding them up. As I climbed over the style into Dee Farm, I was greeted by Ludwig who had a BIG SMILE on his face because he had just caught his first Welsh Dee salmon, a 6lb cock fish. The fish had taken the red Ally’s shrimp just above the first rock in the tail of Dee Farm, which was close to the place where I had a hen fish last week.

After this we worked our way back to the car for a break and a bite to eat, before starting to fish the river from Duncan’s Pool down to Horseshoe Falls for the final part of the day. Fishing through the tail of Duncan’s Pool didn’t yield anything, so I moved down to fish the glide down to Horseshoe Falls. About halfway down the glide there is a small bay were it was just possible for me to wade out a few metres and reach the tree line on the far bank with the fly. I fished through this section with the red Ally’s shrimp on the intermediate tip but this didn’t produce anything. So I switch to my Orvis Clearwater 11ft switch rod that was loaded with a 15ft medium sink tip and a size 12D Stoat’s Tail and worked my way through again.

As I approached the end of the bay and the fly moved round to the dangle a fish took the fly, which initially I thought was a sea trout but when I tightened into the fish it felt much larger.

After playing it for a few minutes I guided the salmon (ca. 5lbs) safely to the net and after a very quick photo session it was safely returned to continue its journey.

Fishing the remainder of the glide to the falls until dark didn’t produce anything else, so we called it a day and headed off home happy.

In spite of the overnight showers the Welsh Dee had fallen off slightly to 0.85m (Corwen) by Saturday morning but the falling leaves were going to cause a few problems. For the first part of the day we fished the golf course beat from Abergregan to the Sun Pool and back without any luck on either the fly or spinner. After a late lunch we drove down river and fished the Ddol-issa beat above the farm cottage. While fishing the Sludgy Pool with the spinner George had a strong take but he didn’t connect with it. I fished through the pools with the fly but didn’t get any interest from anything but leaves! In addition, we didn’t see any fish moving through any of the pools.

Overall, another tough week on the salmon front with some success on Friday for Ludwig and myself.  It felt great to help Ludwig catch his first Welsh Dee salmon; with my advice paying off for him. For me my Welsh Dee season total has increased to 5 salmon, all of which were caught on the fly, making it the best year on the Llangollen beats for a while and definitely making up for last year’s drought. I should have one more chance to go fishing early next week and then that will be the end to my 2017 salmon season on the Welsh Dee.

Thanks to my fellow anglers who have provided me with some fishing results this week. If anyone else would like to contribute to this review then please send me a quick note with any photos to by Sunday of each week and if appropriate I will add it to the weekly review.

Tight line until next week, Andrew (8/10/17)



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